One of my characters in The Twesome Loop is an abuser. Readers have commented that they really hated him, which, of course was the idea. However, during the editing/revision process, I was asked to give some sort of an empathetic side to his character (a reason for his behavior). This I did and it ‘explained’ his motivation to some extent.
When I recently watched the Ted Bundy tapes (which are truly terrifying due to his charm & ‘normalcy’ to those who knew him) it made me think that in fiction we ‘explain’ character motives but in reality there may never be one that makes sense.
Today’s question is: Have you been asked to ‘explain’ a character trait?
Were you happy to explain it or do/did you feel it took something away from the narrative?
Click on the post heading and then scroll to the comments. Looking forward to everyone’s opinion and experiences.
Thank you to everyone who has joined in this month’s conversation on genre. We have indeed covered all aspects of genre from writing it to marketing it.
Today’s question is: How much of your ‘personality should you put into your narrative? In other words do you, or should you, utilize family memories, personal history or ‘local’ knowledge to create a realistic tale?
Some genres may not readily seem to avail themselves to personal input but even sci-fi or fantasy has interactions where you need to think what reaction a character would have in that situation.
I am excited to read your thoughts on this question. Please click on the post headings & then scroll to the comment section.
Last week’s responses:
biancarowena As a ‘pantser’ I tent to write whatever I feel and see in my mind’s eye, then edit later. This makes for a lot of editing, as compared to planners. I know how time consuming reconstructing a story can be. So I’d personally recommend knowing your genre before writing the story, and sticking to it. Publishers what to know how to categorize your story. It’s not to limit you but to help them know who your target audience is. They know which genre is in demand and are looking for specific things. If your genre is too vague or you don’t stick to one then your book is less marketable, in a publisher’s view. I think for the sake of not having to rewrite your entire story (if your genre is not clear or shifts), it’s best to know your genre before delving in, and sticking to it.
When I was writing my book I was calling it historical fiction as it was based on a true story but with some fictionalizing. When it was accepted for publication, my publisher changed it to non-fiction, based on a true story. What happens with that in bookstores (not the independents), is that the book is shelved with research, resource, history and since my name begins with W it is on the bottom shelf near the floor and is crowded out by the other larger resource books. Browsers never see it, and anyone looking for it has a difficult time finding it. The next time I write a book I am using my maiden name that begins with M.
I tend to follow formula and am happy doing so. However, if well written, the unexpected can work well. But if not handled with care, can be a book you want to toss into a wall.
I used this prompt at my writers sharing meeting. It was such fun. The name conjured up an image of the character for all the participants and then we wrote a short story with our character as POV.
It was a great exercise and was followed by a discussion on finding character names to suit not only their personality but era, geographical location and status.
Why don’t you try? Then share in the comments.
This is my story:
“My Lady, your guests are in the library. Shall I bring tea?”
“Thank you, Holmes. Yes, tea would be nice. Use the floral tea set and a few fancies as well.”
Henrietta watched the butler walk away in his usual stately manner. She remembered her younger days, when she glided along these corridors, slender and nimble and full of energy. Alas no more, age had made her portly and she knew the whispering of the under maids. She overheard two of them jesting and calling her ‘widdle waddle’. If she were vindictive she might have dismissed them but she felt the nickname described her well – mores the pity.
As she opened the library door, a cacophony of chatter washed over her. The village fete committee of ten robust middle aged women greeted her and a couple even curtsied. Henrietta stifled a chuckle and sat at the oak desk. One woman stood.
“Lady Waddle, we are so very appreciative of your most kind offer of your grounds for this year’s village fete.”
“It is my absolute pleasure and please call me Henrietta, if we are going to work together, I would rather we were all comfortable.”
A sigh of relief circled the room and smiles greeted her announcement.
Henrietta smiled too , she may be the Lady of the Manor but she wanted to have fun as well as any other.
The definition of a short story is a piece of prose fiction that can be read in one sitting. Short stories originally emerged from traditional oral storytelling in the 17th century. In terms of word count they are usually under 7,500 words, however this word count can vary. Due to the diversity of short story content it is not easy to characterize them, they may differ between genres, countries, eras, and commentators. They feature a small cast of characters and focus on a self-contained incident using plot, resonance, literary techniques or other dynamic components but not in as much depth as a novel.
Short stories are considered, by many, as an apprenticeship form preceding more lengthy works, however they are a crafted form in their own right. Short story writers usually publish their narratives within a collection as part of an artistic or personal expression form.
This concentrated form of narrative can be theorized through traditional elements, such as exposition, complication, crisis, climax and resolution although not all follow this pattern. For instance, modern short stories start in the middle of the action and do not include exposition. Slightly longer works do include climax, crisis or a turning point but many do end abruptly or are left ‘open’ and can or cannot have a moral or practical lesson.
Have you written short stories? Is that how you started writing?
Do you find the short prose form enables you to ‘refresh’ your Muse when immerse in larger works?
I have a steampunk story (7700 words) that I am hoping to find a venue for, whether in an anthology or some other publication. So if you have a lead please share it.
My publisher has a couple of awesome short story authors published. Karen Probert and Barbie-Jo Smith. Karen’s characterizations and attention to detail is incredible and Barbie-Jo has the most humorous tales. http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/catalog/books
My conference presentation was well received and my audience engaged in the interactive segments with gusto. The theme of the conference was everything Canadian to tie in with the 150 year celebrations. My session ‘Building a Canadian Character’ included choosing a particular province and building a character from its particular landscape, economy, resources etc. With numerous handouts I managed to compile, each attendee went home with helpful resources.
When I created the individual folders I pinned a small cloth doll to each and then asked everyone to choose – this meant they went for colour or pattern unaware I had put a photo inside for another exercise. Sneaky maybe but it worked well. Then later I asked everyone to describe with as much detail as possible the person in those photos. After they read their description they shown the photo to everyone else. It was a lesson in description.
The week was not as busy although planning for the major event in June did take up quite some time. My other project is ghost writing a book, which is progressing nicely.
I am now on countdown to the Spring Writers Retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. Here I will immerse myself in my writing without distraction. The location is perfect with a small river, woodland and trails to refresh a tired Muse. It is a huge log cabin with an expert chef, whose meals are just so appetizing everyone wants to take her home.
The Other Life by Ellen Meister – I am enjoying the story’s theme and the tension risen by choosing one life over another.
My friend Karen gave me this book, as she believed the mystery would intrigue me. Looking forward to reading it. Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger
Do it. Write. Write every single day. Read as much and as often as you can. Remember, every writer is a reader first.